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National Guard exercises open to the public next week

Correction: The Alpena exercise on M-32 is scheduled for August 5th.

Operation Northern Strike has been rumbling across the upper portions of the Lower Peninsula for weeks. It is coming to the UP now, including land and air exercises nearby. Monday through Wednesday, flying operations will take place in Ontonagon and at K I Sawyer Airfield near Marquette. Baraga State Forest will also host National Guard units.

The events are disruptive to some. In order to make landing craft as safe as possible on M-32 near Alpena, electricity will be turned off to area residents. Power lines are located close enough to the makeshift runway that planners feel it is a danger to have them live if a plane clips a pole during touch down.

That is not an issue in the UP, and the public is encouraged to come out to Shuster Field to watch the exercises. Northern Strike involves over 5,000 troops from across the country, as well as internationally.


Several Northern Strike (NS) 21-2 military training events are scheduled to take place in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula August 2-4, 2021.

Flying operations are expected on and above Ontonagon-Schuster Field in Ontonagon and Sawyer International Airport in Gwinn. Ground training operations are planned in the Baraga State Forest.

Ontonagon-Schuster Field will remain open to the public for people to view the military training at 35932 Airport Rd., Ontonagon, off M-64. The public can watch from around the terminal building parking lot area, up to tree line in the field across.

During the three day period, a variety of aircraft are expected to participate including fighter jets, refuelers, and helicopters.

“The Upper Peninsula has a long history of Air Force operations,” said Matthew Trumble, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), NS air component program manager. “We are excited to able to use the great resources available to us in the area and appreciate all of the support from the surrounding communities.”

The events are one aspect of the Michigan National Guard’s NS 21-2 exercise. The exercise is one of the Department of Defense’s largest reserve component readiness exercises. It is scheduled to take place across Northern Michigan July 31 to August 14.

Approximately 5,100 participants from various states and countries will converge at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) for training. The NADWC encompasses the Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena CRTC.

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